In 2003, the European Bridge League opened its championships to all comers for the first time. The tournament took place in Menton, on the French Riviera, and attracted numerous North American players.
The Open European Championships have continued in odd-numbered years ever since. This year, the tournament will be organized in Montecatini, Italy, from June 10 to 24. North American players who travel to Montecatini – about midway between Pisa and Florence – will see many familiar faces. The NABCs put on by the ACBL attract significant numbers of European players who enjoy the tough competition and the chance to see an American city for the first time.
While visiting Orlando during the 2016 Fall NABC, EBL President Yves Aubry issued an invitation to North Americans to give Montecatini a try. The city of 21,095 is about 28 miles from Pisa and 31 miles from Firenze (Florence). Players interested in attending the tournament would fly into either of those cities. Aubry said there will be shuttles from the airports to Montecatini. The city is located in Tuscany, where the weather is mild during the summer, featuring high temperatures in the mid-70s.
Tuscany is known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and its influence on high culture. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and has been home to many figures influential in the history of art and science, and contains well-known museums such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace Aubry said the EBL has arranged special rates in many hotels of Montecatini Terme available through a travel agency (Ranieri Tour Operator at Luciana@ranieritouroperator.com). He said all the hotels are within easy walking distance of the two tournament venues: the Palazzo dei Congresso and Teatro Verdi. “You can go everywhere on foot,” he said.
The tournament schedule features Mixed Teams, Mixed Pairs for the first four days, followed by Open, Women’s and Senior pairs and teams for the rest of the tournament. In the two-day events, players who do not make the first cut will have games available to them. The tournament is open to any player who is a member in good standing of his own bridge federation. Once the long events begin, pairs who don’t make the cut in one event can drop into a concurrent event – for example, from the Open Teams to the Open Pairs. Aubry said bridge play will end each day between 7 and 8 p.m. All events will be limited to 50 deals per day.
U.S. players won two events at the first Open Championships and have done well at others. “There are many Americans who are now European champions,” Aubry said. For more information, visit www.eurobridge.org.